Is continued access to the Internet a bad thing?
In a time when the Internet is increasingly available, many seem to think that young people are too reliant on all of its services. One study done by the Missouri University of Science and Technology even says that the dependence that college students have on the Internet has similarities with the symptoms of addiction.
The study surveyed 69 students and found that those who spent the most time on the Internet also shared characteristics of withdrawal, cravings, and reclusion from others. But, according to Parkland Psychology major Sydney Murray, having continued access to the Internet doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
“I’ve always found it to be really helpful to be able to pull out my phone and Google the answer to any question that pops in my head. It’s an amazing thing to have all the world’s knowledge in my pocket,” Murray said.
Murray said that as long as you don’t let yourself get turned away from work by all the distractions the Internet offers, the benefits far outweigh the possible negatives.
“There’s always the pull of social media and games and things like that but I think the important thing is just to know how to focus up. Tell yourself, ‘Okay, I’m going to do an hour of work and then give myself 10 or 15 minutes on Twitter’,” Murray suggested.
Associate Professor of Humanities Amber Landis teaches both online and on-campus courses at Parkland. She said that she has a passion for teaching and loves leading discussions in her on-campus classes, but says that student engagement can be a problem when face to face with students.
Landis has been teaching an online Literature class for the first time this semester, and said she was, at first, worried that it would be boring without the in-person interaction of the classroom. However, Landis was pleasantly surprised.
“Not only are students actively engaged, but ALL of them are. If they don’t do the readings and post comments about them, they do not get the points,” Landis explained. “In class, students can ‘hide’, either because they haven’t done the reading or they don’t want to contribute to the discussion. In the online environment they have to and, for the most part, they seem to want to.”
Landis added that the anonymity of the online environment might be the reason students feel more comfortable getting involved in discussion. This could be another benefit of the increasingly Internet-revolved world we live in—an environment that allows students to come out of their shells in ways they previously could not have.
“But students do also have to be highly self-motivated. There is no teacher in person reminding them of deadlines. You must be very focused and organized to complete assignments and readings successfully,” Landis said.
As far as Internet access aiding in student procrastination, Landis said that although things like social media can be a definite distraction, they can also allow for quick moments of relaxation in between work. She thinks that in today’s world, students are more than capable of multitasking.
Anthony Hooker, Advisor in the Parkland Adult Re-Entry Center, said the average age of the students that come through his office is 38 years old. He said that, especially for the Adult Re-Entry Center students, online classes are beneficial because they allow the flexibility that students with full time jobs need.
“Most of our students are certainly comfortable in the Internet environment,” Hooker said. “I consider it a part of my job, and part of the educational process, to acclimate the few hold outs to feel more comfortable, because it’s the world we live in now—the internet and social media are big parts of life today.”
It’s up to the individual student to decide if they think they are suited for the online class environment, and it’s up to all of us to make sure we don’t let ourselves fall prey to Internet addiction. The Internet can be a wonderful tool if used right.
For more information on online classes at Parkland College, visit http://online.parkland.edu/.